Cover image for Brother, can you spare a dime? : the Great Depression, 1929-1933
Brother, can you spare a dime? : the Great Depression, 1929-1933
Meltzer, Milton, 1915-2009.
Personal Author:
Physical Description:
181 pages : illustrations, facsimiles, music ; 18 cm.
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :

On Order



Written by a team of prominent writers and distinguished historians, the Library of American History series weaves documents left behind by historical witnesses into dramatic narratives filled with vivid portraits of famous and ordinary people, place, and events. People long gone and struggles long past come to life again in the letters, diaries, songs, speeches, and official papers that compose the vital core of this remarkable series.

Through the firsthand accounts of workers, farmers, sharecroppers, veterans, professionals, rich and poor, black and white, men and women, young and old, this volume details how this economic catastrophe affected the lives of millions of Americans.

Author Notes

Historian Milton Meltzer was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1915. He attended Columbia University, but had to leave during his senior year because of the Great Depression. He got a job writing for the WPA Federal Theater Project. During World War II, he served as an air traffic controller in the Army Air Corps. After the war, he worked as a writer for CBS radio and in public relations for Pfizer.

In 1956, he published his first book A Pictorial History of the Negro American, which was co-written by Langston Hughes. They also collaborated on Langston Hughes: A Biography, which was published in 1968 and received the Carter G. Woodson award. During his lifetime, he wrote more than 110 books for young people including Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? about the stock market crash that led to the Great Depression; Never to Forget about the Holocaust; and There Comes a Time about the Civil Rights movement. He also addressed such topics as crime, ancient Egypt, the immigrant experience, labor movements, photography, piracy, poverty, racism, and slavery. He wrote numerous biographies including ones on Mary McLeod Bethune, Lydia Maria Child, Dorothea Lange, Margaret Sanger, and Henry David Thoreau. He received the 2000 Regina Medal and the 2001 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for his body of work and his lasting contribution to children's literature. He died of esophageal cancer on September 19, 2009 at the age of 94.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 7-12. Part of the new Library of American History series, the new editions of Meltzer's Bread and Roses [BKL Mr 15 68] and Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? [BKL Je 15 69] are virtually unchanged from the original books. Brother does include a new paragraph in the last chapter that links homelessness then and now. Scott's Settlers on the Eastern Shore (Knopf, 1967) has a condensed text in which historical accounts are paraphrased rather than directly quoted. All three volumes contain an expanded bibliography and fewer illustrations. See the Series Roundup in this issue for other titles. ~--Sally Estes

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7-12-- Meltzer focuses on the human reactions to the events of the Great Depression, and as such, draws heavily on first-hand accounts of those who experienced it. His narrative moves briskly from the '20s to the New Deal, covering the problems of the homeless and unemployed, the breadlines and bankruptcy. He reveals the despair and hopelessness of people who fell from relative comfort to complete poverty. This new edition of the book, which was originally published by Knopf in 1969, concludes with the rather pessimistic comment that the United States has ``declined'' into a service economy during the last decade, and that the gap between the ``haves'' and ``have-nots'' is widening. Songs by Woodie Guthrie and others are still included in this edition, but there are fewer photos than in the earlier version and they are not as clearly reproduced. The bibliography has been enlarged and brought up to date. Although several other books on the Depression are available, it's hard to beat Meltzer's collection of testimonials from those who lived through such terrible times. Students will find these accounts much more interesting than their textbooks; libraries not having the first edition will want this one. --Miriam Hansen, Indianhead Federated Library System, Eau Claire, WI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.